Magazine Article | May 11, 2006


Source: Field Technologies Magazine

This document conversion company increases the longevity of critical documents and provides high-quality images with high-speed scanners.

Integrated Solutions, March 2006

EDCO - The Document People, a 45-year-old private corporation, specializes in high-volume conversion of paper documents to digital or microfilm formats. Its primary focus is the medical records industry; however, many law offices and insurance facilities also seek its services. EDCO operates an underground secure storage center, in which it stores various types of records for companies lacking the space for storage. Many of EDCO’s customers made the shift from microfilm to digital storage in the last few years. As a result, EDCO converted its business processes and scanning practices, while also reducing the overall costs of capturing documents.

Until two years ago, EDCO used more than 100 Minolta microfilm cameras to produce 95% of its converted products. Bob Barnum, imaging manager, was charged with managing the conversion of EDCO’s business technology from primarily microfilm to digital. “We looked at virtually all options for high-volume, high-speed scanning and chose the IBML ImageTrac II scanner,” says Barnum. “It was the clear winner for speed, ease of use, fault recovery, and durability. We were concerned about the physical condition of some medical documents, a challenge for any scanner, but we were very pleased with the handling of the ImageTrac II, including its throughput rate.”

Last year, EDCO upgraded from one ImageTrac II scanner to three ImageTrac IV scanners to realize greater throughput, so it could keep up with its increased business. With the new scanners, EDCO achieved its goal of shifting its business to the point of capturing almost all of its images on the ImageTrac IV scanners, including those written to microfilm later. As a result, EDCO instituted new business processes to meet the needs of its digital capture processes.

One of EDCO’s services is evaluating companies’ records and identifying the records to be purged or digitized. EDCO sends its own custom trucks to customers’ facilities to pick up documents – sometimes 300 to 400 boxes – for scanning. EDCO uses in-house software called BoxTrack, to locate boxed documents throughout the scanning and storage process, as it may receive a customer request for a document not yet scanned. Documents are indexed using bar codes or OCR (optical character recognition) technology, as they are scanned. The ImageTrac IV scans 250 to 300 documents per minute. EDCO estimates it can scan 200 million documents per year with the scanners. In three to four weeks, EDCO can now complete a scanning job that previously took approximately a year.

EDCO adjusted its staff, which previously specialized in microfilm processing, to instead prepare documents for indexing and scanning. EDCO has seven or eight employees per scanner per shift working two 8-hour shifts per day preparing documents to keep three scanners working constantly. The preparation process ensures all documents are in a condition conducive to scanning, including photographs, EKG strips, and foldout sheets requiring page separation. Documents that are not capable of being scanned are replaced with exception flags and scanned using a flatbed scanner.


Most of EDCO’s customers request a document in EDCO’s possession using a system created in-house called Retrieval Net. The customers access a secure Web site to request documents in a specific format. Operators at EDCO receive the document request, use BoxTrack to identify the location of the document (via paper box or digitized media), and fulfill the request within a time frame determined within a service agreement. Some requests require the hard copy of the document, which is delivered or faxed to the customer; others require electronic delivery, such as a PDF or TIFF file. Customers receive notification of delivery via e-mail or through a secured connection.

EDCO anticipates future upgrades, as well. “We will soon perform a complete system upgrade,” says Barnum. “It will increase performance and add capacity from our current level of about 6 TB to 20 TB, with an eventual upgrade to 50 TB. Customers requiring larger, color images are driving the need for additional capacity. We also plan to double our output capacity by adding a second automated DVD recorder.”